Page last updated at 17:36 GMT, Monday, 17 November 2008

'Handful' of bullying expulsions

Fighting
There are more than 60 organisations taking part in Anti-Bullying Week

There were only 90 children permanently excluded from school for bullying last year in England, according to figures released by the Conservatives.

Shadow Children's Secretary Michael Gove questioned why "just a handful" of permanent exclusions had been imposed.

There were 6,800 children who received temporary exclusions for bullying.

Speaking at the beginning of Anti Bullying Week, England's Children's Secretary Ed Balls said schools were working hard to stamp out bullying.

The figures highlighted by the Conservatives show that in two thirds of local authorities no children were permanently excluded for bullying last year.

'Tormentors'

Mr Gove said that this meant that bullies who received temporary exclusions were returning to the schools where they had "caused misery for their classmates".

"The victims of bullying shouldn't have to put up with seeing their tormentors stroll back into the classroom after a few days away from school," he said.

The permanent exclusions for bullying - 80 in secondary and 10 in primary school - were fewer in number than the 2,700 permanent exclusions for disruptive behaviour, 210 for theft, 400 for drug or alcohol use, 140 for sexual misconduct, 980 for assaulting an adult and 1,350 for assaulting a pupil.

The number of permanent exclusions for bullying has fallen in recent years - down from 150 in 2003-04 and 130 in 2004-05. The number of temporary exclusions for bullying for these years were 6,750 and 7,680.

Projects and surveys associated with Anti-Bullying Week, now in its fifth year, suggest that this remains a widespread concern.

There are 60 organisations which are part of the Anti-Bullying Alliance, which seeks to discourage bullying on the grounds of "skin colour, gender, disability, sexuality, hair colour, size, accent or dress sense".

Anti-Bullying Week is supported by the Department for Children, Schools and Families - and the Children's Secretary Ed Balls has praised efforts to stop "turning a blind eye" to bullying.

"Bullying is talked about openly, it is not tolerated in schools. And teachers and young people in schools across the country are working hard to stamp out bullying."

Ahead of this year's week, Mr Balls has asked the Anti-Bullying Alliance to "produce advice for schools on gender bullying. It will cover issues like sexual exploitation of girls and gender stereotyping".



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